AVweb Flash

  • Electric powerplants and autonomous systems continue to make progress, with reports this week of first flights and new designs. In China, the two-seat RX1E-A, an advanced version of the RX1E, designed by Shenyang Aerospace University, flew for the first time this week and proved it can now fly for up to two hours on a single charge, an improvement over the 45-minute endurance of the previous model, which has been in production since last year.

  • Bruce Landsberg, who promoted GA safety for many years at AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation, faced tough questions at a Senate hearing this week regarding his nomination to serve on the NTSB. Six senators signed on to a letter before the hearing asking why he criticized the 1,500-hour rule during his years at AOPA. Landsberg has said he believes in “performance-based regulation as opposed to an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all rule.”

  • The FAA and NTSB both issued safety alerts recently that warn pilots to use proper procedures when operating on runways. The NTSB cites several accidents when pilots chose an intersection takeoff to save time, and then lost power. In each case, if the pilot had used the entire runway, there would have been room for a safe landing straight ahead. Instead, all three aircraft crashed, and two people were killed.The FAA’s Safety Alert for Pilots also concerns runway operations, reminding pilots and airport workers about the correct procedures for using runway status lights.

  • Now that the Part 23 rules to certify airplanes have been revised, the FAA says it’s ready to take on an overhaul of the regulations for certifying helicopters. “The proposed changes are necessary to address modern designs currently used in the rotorcraft industry and would reduce the burden on applicants for certification of new rotorcraft designs,” the FAA said in its proposal, published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

  • Two men who died in the crash of a Czech-built light-sport aircraft in Rhoadesville, Virginia, in May 2016 had deployed a parachute recovery system, but it failed when the single front attachment point detached, according to a recent NTSB report. According to the NTSB, the pilot had recently purchased the Jihlavan KP 5 ASA (Skyleader 500), an all-metal, two-seat low-wing aircraft, with a chute supplied by Galaxy Rescue Systems, and was taking instruction in it to satisfy insurance requirements.

  • The kingdom of Saudi Arabia will invest $1 billion in three of Richard Branson’s space/aviation companies — Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit, Branson announced on Thursday.

  • Icon Aircraft told deposit holders yesterday that prices for the closely watched light sport would be going up about 30% for a base model and more than 50% for a fully loaded aircraft.

  • The F-16C that crashed on April 5, 2017, shortly after departure from Joint Base Andrews, was brought down by faulty reassembly of the main engine control (MEC) unit during overhaul, according to the Air Force Accident Investigation Board assigned to the mishap.

  • The FAA and Chinese regulators signed an implementation agreement for the U.S.–China Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) late last week. Although the two countries signed BASA in 2005, generally agreeing to facilitate mutual acceptance of parts and aircraft certified by the other, it has taken 12 years for the countries to get to agreement on a concrete implementation plan.

  • As I approached Sarasota Airport on the downwind there was a Cessna 172 ahead of me who asked the tower clearance for landing … Tower: State your intentions.” … The pilot said that he planned to have dinner with his brother-in-law that evening … Tower:"Roger, cleared to land."

  • The FAA wants to fine the now-shuttered NavWorx $3.7 million for allegedly altering its ADS-B transmitters to hide the fact that they used a non-compliant GPS chip.

  • Transport Canada might leave all pilot proficiency checks on airline pilots up to the airlines themselves, according to documents obtained by the union representing government inspection pilots.

  • The airspeed indicator in the P-51D flown by former Sikorsky President Jeff Pino was frozen at 530 knots when investigators examined the wreckage from the crash that killed Pino and his friend Nicholas Tramontano near Maricopa, AZ in February of 2016.

  • AOPA, almost a year into their program to target FBOs charging what it views as “egregious” fuel prices and fees, is starting to declare victory against some of the FBOs on the most wanted list. OK3 Air, at Heber City Airport, Utah, had been a favorite AOPA target after the owner admitted he kept prices high because he didn’t want more aircraft using the airport. The non-towered field is the closest public airport to Park City, a ski destination and, in January, home of the Sundance Film Festival, which reliably brings in many of the biggest names in Hollywood.

  • While accustomed to runway incursions by the local fauna, the bearded seal seeking a moment of repose on Runway 7/25 at Utqiagvik’s Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport was a first for airport personnel. Meadow Bailey, communications director for the Alaska Department of Transportation, says heavy storms had recently come through the area, which perhaps drove the marine mammal to the relative warmth of the asphalt runway.

  • NASA researchers are testing new technologies that should lead to wing designs that are lighter, more efficient, quieter and safer than today’s wings, the agency said this week. The Passive Aeroelastic Tailored, or PAT, wing is expected to arrive later this year at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. The uniquely designed composite wing is more flexible than conventional wings, said Larry Hudson, chief test engineer at Armstrong Flight Loads Laboratory.

  • Airlander, the British company that has been test-flying a hybrid lighter-than-air ship intended for remote cargo operations, said this week they are now working to develop a tourism version of the unique aircraft. The company said they have partnered with Henry Cookson Adventures to launch a trial “expeditionary journey” next year as a sort of shakedown cruise to try the airship out in the luxury and adventure-travel market.

  • Emirates Airline and a consortium of industry partners have launched an effort to build the “world’s first sector-wide [Aviation] Experimental (X) Lab to co-create the next era of human transportation,” the airline announced on Wednesday. The Aviation X-Lab, based at a Dubai think tank called Area 2071, will bring together airlines, manufacturers, engineers, academics and startups under a single roof to envision a “new transportation paradigm,” the airline said.

  • The integration of drones into the National Airspace System will accelerate with a pilot program directed by the FAA, the Transportation Department announced on Wednesday. The initiative will implement a directive signed by President Donald Trump this week that aims to develop a regulatory framework to allow more complex low-altitude operations; balance local and national interests; improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions; address security and privacy risks; and accelerate the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations.

  • Flight-path changes implemented due to NextGen have resulted in noise complaints in neighborhoods across the country, but due to the way the NextGen technology works, it may be difficult to address those conflicts, according to an Associated Press story published this week. David Grizzle, a former FAA chief operating officer, said it’s not possible to redesign procedures to fix the problems without losing out on NextGen’s advantages.

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